A high-level defence ministry inquiry into the infamous Adarsh housing society scandal in the upmarket Colaba area of Mumbai has blamed several top military officers, including two former Army chiefs, for various alleged acts of omission and commission in the scam, according to The Times of India (TOI) on Sunday.
The TOI report said that the 199-page inquiry report castigates former Army chiefs General N C Vij (2002-2005) and General Deepak Kapoor (2007-2010), three Lieutenant Generals and four Major Generals, apart from naming dozens of other military and Defence Estates Office (DEO) officers, recommending that the government take "appropriate administrative measures" against them.
Most of those named in the report were allotted flats in the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society (ACHS), the towering 31-storey building which poses a grave security threat to the adjacent defence installations and helipad in the Colaba military station.
The apartments were meant for the families of Kargil heroes. But army officers, politicians and bureaucrats were allegedly alloted flats in violation of the rules.
The Hindu, on Sunday, quoting sources said that the defence ministry report is a validation of the findings of a Court of Inquiry by the Army in 2011 which had probed the roles of a number of military officials in the scam.
'Army chief asked no questions'
"An Army chief is expected to maintain the highest standards of rectitude and correct behaviour as a role model for all the officers in the service. His membership of the ACHS and securing allotment of a flat would have had a dampening effect on all the officers concerned, sending a signal to them to fall in line, and discouraging even those who may have wanted to safeguard Army's interest or speak out about the wrongdoing," the report said.
It said at no stage did Gen Vij raise any questions on the matter, nor did he flag any security concerns during the annual security review as the Army Commander or otherwise. The report said it was known that he had a "vested interest" in the matter, the sources said.
"Top level officers are role models and have to set an example. They have thus a greater responsibility to check wrongdoing. They are not expected to be part of such wrongdoing or condone it, and certainly cannot afford to have a vested interest in the wrongdoing," said the inquiry conducted by former IAS officer Rajan Katoch and Lt General Ravi Thodge (retd).
Apart from "suitably conveying displeasure to these officers for their conduct and role in facilitating the wrongdoings in the case", the inquiry report says they should be debarred from any future employment or contract with the government, or any of its bodies and committees, the TOI report noted.
The military-political complex
About Gen Kapoor, the report said though he was not directly connected with the case, he was not "well advised" in accepting a membership of the society, adding that that it did not seem he had adequately weighed the implications of accepting a flat in the complex.
The Indian Navy had raised security concerns as the 31 storey building overlooked several of its key installations.
The Adarsh scam kicked up a huge political storm after it surfaced in 2010, leading to the resignation of then Congress chief minister Ashok Chavan. In January 2011, even an order for demolishing the Adarsh Housing Society was passed for alleged violation of Coastal Regulation Zone norms and not obtaining permission from the environment ministry before construction.
"Attention in the Adarsh scam so far has centred on the wrongdoings and irregularities by the politicians and bureaucrats concerned with the approval process who exploited their position to become beneficiaries of ACHS. As we have found, perhaps as great a role was played by the military and Defence Estates Officers involved," the inquiry report noted.
TOI added that the three retired lieutenant generals named in the report are G S Sihota, Tejinder Singh and Shantanu Choudhary, while the major generals are A R Kumar, V S Yadav, T K Kaul and R K Hooda. All these names had also found mention in an internal Army inquiry submitted to the defence ministry in 2011, as was then reported by TOI.
But while six officers (Maj Generals A R Kumar and T K Kaul, Brigadiers T K Sinha and M M Wanchu, Col R K Bakshi and former DEO officer R C Thakur, the alleged kingpin) are facing criminal charges after the CBI chargesheeted them in July 2012, even though the trial is yet to begin, the others have faced no action till now.